Stats for the day:
- 92 miles in 8 and a bit hours of cycling
- Total ascent an eye-watering, leg-burning 6,900 feet - new record
- Maximum speed - 60.8mph!!!
Phew! Glad that one’s over. Planning the route I always knew that day ten would be the hardest. (For us, because of the wind, day one was equal toughest.) Everyone talks about the hills of Devon and Cornwall as being the hardest part of the ride and boy, are they right. The whole day was a sequence of steep descents and ascents, usually with no respite in between. Normally as a cyclist you look forward to the downhill bits. Today, because every time we had a downhill bit we knew we get the same going back up the other side, I felt like bursting into tears every time we started off down another fast descent. The landscape gives the impression of a piece of paper that has been folded, leaving a tight crease down the middle. The creases are where the vertiginous hills are encountered. One of them, somewhere SW of Great Torrington, was so steep that according to the Garmin I touched 60mph on the way down, and the g-force when the road stopped descending and rose again up a 1 in 4 gradient was the sort of experience normally reserved for roller coaster junkies.
I’ll stop going on about the hills, for now.
The day started with, for once, an earlyish departure from the Premier Inn just outside Taunton. The early start was then negated as I spotted a cycle shop in the middle of Taunton, and thought I would get my bike checked over. (Charles didn’t mention it in yesterday’s blog, but ever since Bristol my bike had been making a horrendous banging noise with every turn of the pedal. My chance of sneaking up stealthily behind other cyclists was gone - a bit like the giant crocodile in Peter Pan that has swallowed a clock. And by the way we worked out the problem I was having on day eight - my back wheel had come very loose, so whenever I put a bit of pressure on the wheel was rubbing.) A very helpful guy in the workshop soon found the problem - the plastic cup housing the bottom bracket was completely fractured, meaning the bike was close to a major breakdown. So another entry to our hall of fame, to add to Askew’s in Kendal and Paul the AA man: Ralph Colman Cycles in Taunton. Well stocked shop, knowledgeable and helpful staff who dropped everything they were doing to help us. Go there, you won’t regret it.
So we headed off at about 10, both with properly functioning bikes for the first time in quite a few days. We headed off west, skirting the southern end of Exmoor, and stopped at South Molton for lunch. Steffi and Cara turned up with perfect timing for the first of three times during the day, and we had a very nice lunch in the middle of the village.
After lunch we got back on the rollercoaster and struck on through Great Torrington (ice cream stop!), then across a combination of lanes and A388 to Stratton. Finally we headed south along the A39 for ten miles or so before following signs to Boscastle. We knew about the final 300 foot climb made famous by the scenes of cars being swept down the village in the floods a few years ago. What we hadn’t realised was that there is a climb up to above 800 feet before you even get to that, followed by a steep descent to sea level. A final blow to finish legs that are already crying out for the end of the day.
We’re staying at the Boscastle House, which is frankly the loveliest B&B I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a beautiful place, with fantastic views (view from our room see picture below), and Sean is a welcoming host in similar vein to Eddie at Crawfordjohn. Shame we arrived quite late and, as always, have to shoot off first thing. We’ll definitely we coming back here when we’ve got a bit more time to savour one of the most wonderful spots in Cornwall.
So, just one more day to go. Won’t be easy, lots more hills etc, but we’re nearly there now. Who would have thought it? To view pictures of Day Ten click here